Thursday, August 18, 2011

My Maternal Grandmother: Martha Leona (Roberts) Redles

I wish I had known both sets of my grandparents.  I don't remember my maternal grandmother; she died when I was just a few months old.  I have a photo of her holding me.  Well, it's in storage in Valdosta with the rest of my photographs (Why, oh why, didn't I bring them with me!).  Even after her death, we continued to visit the Big House where three of my grandmother's sisters still lived and where my mother and her sister Catherine grew up.  I felt disconnected to my grandmother, because of having not known her; I always thought of the Big House as the home of my great aunts.

Martha Leona Roberts

My maternal grandmother, Martha Leona Roberts, was born December 11, 1895, in Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia.  Her parents were John Taylor (J. T.) and Catherine (Kate) Margaret (Young) Roberts.  My grandmother was one of nine children.  She had two brothers, Leland and John, and six sisters, Kathleen, Maie Dell, Stella, Margaret, Edwina (Midge), and Mary Remer (Dinah).  No wonder they needed such a big house.  In 1975, my father interviewed my great aunt Margaret for the Lowndes County Historical Society newsletter.  She told him how one day she and my grandmother were having a fuss when they were kids, so their father put them in a closet together, but the "worst punishment was when he let them out and made them kiss"[1].  My grandmother went by the name Leona, but like many others in her family, she had a nickname--the same one as my mother--Lonie (long "o").

My grandmother, Leona (Roberts) Redles (third from left), and her sisters.

My grandmother graduated from Ward Bellmont, a junior college in Nashville, Tennessee, as education was important in the Roberts family, for both the girls and the boys.

As I wrote in my post about my maternal grandfather, William Liming Redles, my grandparents were introduced by Warren Graham who was dating (and later married) my grandmother's sister Margaret.  They were married on May 8, 1923, in Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania, in Pendle House, the home of my paternal second great uncle William Frederick Pendleton who officiated the wedding. They traveled across the ocean on a ship to spend their honeymoon in Paris.  I was looking at the passenger record yesterday for their return took 8 days.  I can't imagine having to take a ship every time you wanted to go to Europe.  It might be fun once.

From her obituary in The Valdosta Daily Times[2],

She was a member of the First Baptist Church and over the period of years of her active life, she took a prominent part in church affairs.  She was particularly active in the Womans Missionary Union and other church organizations.  She also was active in Wymodausis circles and in the affairs of the Readers’ Forum.

Leona (Roberts) Redles

My mother told me that her mother always arranged the flowers in the entry hall at the Big House.  I wonder if she had vases of the narcissus flowers that I love so much.  By the time I was old enough to notice flowers on the table just past the front door, Great Aunt Margaret was the one who had taken on the duty of arranging them.  I remember in spring there would be a huge vase of narcissus blooms picked from the back garden (they grew there by the hundreds).  Heavenly scent!  Every time I smell them, no matter where I am, I think of the Big House.

My maternal grandmother died on April 19, 1955, in Valdosta, Georgia, from breast cancer.  She is buried in Sunset Hill Cemetery in a plot that contains her parents, several of her siblings, and other Roberts family members.  My mother mentioned to me today that she wondered why her father wasn't mentioned in her mother's obituary.  She has said this to me before.  Usually, a spouse is included, even if their death preceded the recently deceased's.  Maybe it was just an oversight on the part of her family, or maybe there's a story behind it that we'll never know.  Sometimes I wish I could time travel!

[1]  Albert S. Pendleton, Jr., "The John T. Roberts Family." Lowndes County Historical Society. V, no. 1 (1975).
[2] "Mrs. Redles, Valdostan, Dies in Hospital." The Valdosta Daily Times.  19 April 1955, p 8.

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